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To Stage Or Not To Stage: That Is The Question

Part two of two
[Text taken in part from staging article published on PITTSBURGH MAGAZINE.COM, June 2009]

Staging should read like a good book.  Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.  Initially, the cover has to grab your attention (e.g., curb appeal); then the preface must make you want to continue.  The first few pages of the book are the deal breaker.  You either want to continue or not.

If the house has no curb appeal are they going to keep driving?  If the budget allows, things can be done outside to enhance and make the house more inviting.

Once inside, the real work begins.  If the house has little architectural interest, and your budget allows, you need to add some pizzazz.

Budget is a huge consideration.  But, with the right crew, any job can be handled.  However, you can't expect to achieve a look that costs $4,000 for $800.  That said, you can dramatically improve your space for $800.  In some cases, results can be achieved for no money, depending on what is in the house, the condition of those things, and the clients’ ability to execute the required work themselves if necessary.  Sometimes, simply rearranging existing furniture and eliminating excess is all that is needed.  A staged home can be sparsely furnished just to define the function of the areas.  If you are not going to leave the furniture, the “bones” of the house need to be good, and we are available to help with that too.  People are more aware of floors, walls, surfaces, lighting and storage; flaws show up more when the house is empty.  If you decide to stage, sometimes you can get by with minimal staging such as plants, lighting, art, and rented furniture.

How fast do you want to sell your house?  If it has been on the market for awhile you should consider putting in some money for staging.   We can stage your house in phases, starting out using what you have and making suggestions so that you can do the work yourself.   If it doesn't sell after that, consider putting in a low to medium investment in staging.  With a little more money, we can take your house to the next level or two.  In many cases, results can be achieved using existing furnishings. It really depends on your house, furnishings and exterior.  I can sometimes locate a tragic flaw during the initial visit.  Being willing to box up stuff really helps get the ball rolling, so start putting your clutter away today!

Hard wood and tile floors can be great selling points when chosen and installed properly.

Updating a kitchen is essential beyond the obvious requirement of replacing worn appliances and countertops. Attention to details, such as installing interesting hardware, adding trim or changing cabinet doors, sanding, and staining or painting can transform a kitchen, which is often a major selling point in a house.  Changing inserts in doors to grills or glass is more expensive, but provides a quality touch if you have the budget and the room needs it. Sometimes, the focal point of a kitchen is the oven hood if you don't have a great view out of a window.

 

This is my kitchen.  I know that I will be
expanding it soon, so I didn't want to spend the
money twice.  It had an awful 70's rolled Formica
backsplash, an old cracked vinyl floor and ugly
fake wood cabinets.


For a fast and frugal partial transformation, the
cabinets were painted.  The floor was covered
with plywood then painted with a Feng Shui
friendly zebra motif to add drama (proper for this
area). 

A $99 bamboo mat was softened with a carpet
pad underneath for comfort while standing. 

My kitchen - somewhat before

To update and visually enhance the generic Formica backsplash, I had a custom wooden backsplash made to simply fit in front of the existing one, which I partially painted to co-ordinate with the other colors in the room. 

Old aluminum windows were unsightly.  An architectural salvage window was found to cover the old aluminum and add character.  A marble remnant was cut to complete the window sill.  The final touch was added to the walls with a muted striped wall covering.
 

The total for this kitchen renovation was under $700.


My Kitchen (After)




Storage is a huge issue, but is often ignored. Do provide storage or consider building a closet, especially for the master bedroom.

If the outside lends itself to the possibility of seating, you should provide a small furniture grouping on a hard surface such as brick, decking, flagstone, colored concrete, etc.    

I prefer an office to a third bedroom.  Many people work from home full-time or part-time. The desk shouldn't have your papers showing.  It should be a clean slate so the perspective buyer can imagine themselves working there.   It would be easy to convert it into a bedroom if it isn't needed. 

Window treatments should be neutral.  Simple inexpensive draperies add softness to a room.  Other treatments are more expensive, so again, it depends on budget.

It is probably a good idea to buy updated faucets for both kitchen and bathroom sinks and tub.  This is a small fix for a big impact.

Flat screen TVs are popular, and with good reason.  They can even look like art when you are having prospective buyers view the house with a TV image on pause; it really can pass for art.  (I do not know if it could cause any damage to the screen; I would not recommend leaving it on pause for any extended period.)  Also, you can purchase TVs that are mirrored when turned off or they can be part of an entertainment unit.  Alternatively, they can become an element of a wall grouping or wall unit.  These features allow them to add to the room instead of being just a huge black box.

If your house is large enough, a home theatre is often a nice touch.  But, these days installing one in might be iffy.  If you are going to do it or have one already, it needs to be done with some care.  A theme works well in this area.  You could feel like you're in a deco theatre or in the bleachers. What fun! 

If your dining room isn't large, and you don't have large dinner parties, you can probably put some of the chairs away in a closet.  This will make the room look larger.

After you finish staging, you should feel sorry you're leaving such a great space.  That's when you know that you were successful.

   


Curb Appeal

   
   

Garage area redone to be more inviting Garage area redone to be more inviting

   
   

Originally, these garage doors were painted in a single brown color. The owner of this carriage house wanted me to jazz things up for prospective tenants. So I added emphasis by painting the panels a metallic looking color and painting the bolts to match the panels.


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